Carmagazine.com Words by: Mike Torch
Ambitious Audi has always taken great pride in its engineering firsts. All-aluminum space frames, direct-injection diesel Lemanns racers, W-10 engines. The list goes on. But probably most famous is the company's fabled quattro drivetrain.
Here in the new Audi S5 - the company's big coupe - is where the quattro really shines. Indeed, it was the Ur-quattro coupe that debuted Audi's all-wheel-drive technology to the world.
On the surface the formula for Audi's S5 seems relatively simply: Slot the company's legendary quattro drivetrain along with a blistering, direct-injection V-8 into a big, sexy coupe and viola, you'll have customers falling all over each other to buy.
But anyone familiar with Audi can guess that the automaker didn't stop there. That long history of engineering ambition and technical bravado show up throughout this car. The end result is a dynamic yet practical sports coupe that few rivals can match.
To understand the pedigree behind the quattro drivetrain we must travel back to early 1980s, when the company's model lines were moving up-market. Putting 200+ bhp in their FWD cars proved a problem. They simply couldn't deploy that much grunt and still grip, steer and handle road imperfections properly. Audi had always installed it's engines longitudinally, so adding a driveshaft and rear differential was a natural solution to the problem and the quattro was born.
Carrying this solution over to their rally cars proved a smash success. The Audi Ur quattro dominated the World Rally Championships in the '80s and changed the sport forever. One by one the other manufactuers followed, and seemingly overnight the company became responsible for the popularity of all-wheel-drive cars.